city-986158_1920I want to make a quick statement about my experiences with Java and the Javanese.

If Indonesia lost one of its many provinces or thousands of islands it would still be Indonesia, but not if that island was Java.

Indonesia without Java is inconceivable.

Likewise, Indonesia without the Javanese is inconceivable. There are so many Javanese that standing out in the crowd is difficult, and many Javanese seem to learn from birth the importance of being loud to be noticed.

Andrew Beatty, recounting his experience living in rural Java in his book A Shadow Falls: In the Heart of Java, spoke of “noise being the element you swam in, like a fish in water”.

I wish I’d thought of that line at the times I was surrounded by so many irrepressible, confident Javanese young people, but if I had shared it I suspect few of them would have listened and, given the noise, even fewer would have heard it.